Photo by Cheryl Gerber

Name: Elizabeth Ellison-Frost
Position: Community Relations, Chalmette Refining – PBF Energy
Hometown: Lafayette
Education: LSU, bachelor’s degree in Political Science; UL Lafayette, master’s in English

Although Elizabeth Ellison-Frost has a master’s degree in English and creative writing from UL Lafayette, she insists oil runs in her blood. She got her start as an independent landman before joining the law department at Exxon Mobil’s Chalmette Refining. That led to a transition to the company’s Public & Government Affairs division, where Ellison-Frost really got the chance to hone her communication skills.

When Exxon sold Chalmette Refining to PBF Energy in 2015, she wasn’t sure if she’d still have a job, but the 10-year-old independent petroleum refiner and supplier offered every single employee a position. Ellison-Frost has been happy to stay on in community relations with PBF and to continue the community outreach that the refinery has become known for in its 100-year history.

“PBF is a great company to work for, where leaders emphasize integrity and refining fundamentals such as maintaining safe, reliable and environmentally responsible operations that benefit our workforce, community and environment,” says Ellison-Frost, who was named one of New Orleans City Business’s Women of the Year in 2018. “I believe we have an even stronger community outreach program now than in 2015.”

How did you first get into the oil and energy industry?
I guess you could say I was born into the oil and gas industry. My father was a geologist, and my two brothers own a small oil exploration company in Lafayette. Before coming to New Orleans, I was a landman myself in southwest Louisiana. So, basically it runs in my blood.

You were with ExxonMobil Public & Government Affairs for eight years. What did you take away from that job?
ExxonMobil offered me the opportunity to switch fields to become a public and government affairs advisor. I honed my skills by being hands on in the Baton Rouge and Greater New Orleans areas. I also got to travel extensively while part of the ExxonMobil Regional Response Team, training and participating in drills and learning all aspects of responding to emergencies in Canada, South America, the Caribbean and, of course, the U.S.

What has been the toughest challenge in your career?
One of the toughest times in my career was right after the sale of the refinery was announced in the summer of 2015. At that time, I was planning the 100th anniversary celebration of the refinery. I also began planning for the sale and transition with the new company. It was a lot of work, while being unsure of what was going to happen with my job. I believe we employees all had the fear of the unknown. We celebrated the 100th anniversary with employees and retirees one week before the sale.  The next week, I planned a huge celebration as we became part of the PBF Energy family.

How would you characterize the refining industry in today’s economy?
The refining industry is thriving, yet extremely competitive. Louisiana has 18 refineries and ranks No. 2 behind Texas in crude oil distillation capacity, which was 3,343,206 barrels per day in 2017. And Chalmette Refining’s future looks bright. Chalmette Refining and our four sister refineries are committed to being a positive influence in the communities where we are located. We also recognize that we must earn the right to operate in each of our host communities, which requires that we maintain safe, secure, reliable and environmentally responsible operations.

What are your passions outside of work?
I’m a history geek, so New Orleans is a perfect city to live in. Plus, I am very proud that the refinery maintains the historic De La Ronde Oaks and has helped with the restoration of the remains of the building that was used by the British as a hospital during the Battle of New Orleans. I also love to read and am trying to get back at writing fiction.